The University of Michigan’s Biological Station is well known as a leading field research station in northern lower Michigan as well as a center for education, providing college-level field courses in the natural sciences every summer for over 100 years.
For the past 11 summers, the widely published poet, Keith Taylor has been teaching a literature and writing course for these science students and researchers. So, what is the nexus of poetry and science?
In this video, Keith is interviewed by the Leelanau County poet, playwright and teacher, Anne-Marie Oomen in the backyard of his little cabin at the Biological Station on the banks of Douglas Lake. Together, they reflect on what these biologists and ecologists are learning about the impacts of climate change on our natural world. Keith talks of what he’s learned from the collection of field researchers and scientists he now calls friends.
“Have you been changed by your years here among scientists?” Anne-Marie asks. “Do you feel more optimistic or not so optimistic?”
Of course, this conversation must have poetry. At Anne-Marie’s urging, Keith offers two short poems that draw upon his experiences at the Biological Station and the knowledge he has gained as a poet among the scientists.
One of the poems Keith reads is dedicated to a man familiar to viewers and readers of Nature Change, Dr. Philip Myers. The highly regarded mammologist and field researcher, Dr. Myers describes his research at the Biological Station in our video essay titled, Climate Change – Bringing Weather on Steroids.
The research work of Dr. Myers was the inspiration for Keith’s stunning poem, Not the Northwest Passage.